Few players have undergone a transformation during their time with Sheffield Wednesday quite like Kieran Lee.
He was signed from Oldham Athletic three years ago as a promising right-back looking to make the step up to the Championship, and Lee’s time at Hillsborough has been far from smooth sailing.
Just 18 months ago, few would have expected he would have been signing a new two-year contract, looking to play a key role in the Owls’ push for a return to the Premier League.
From the fringes, Lee has found his place as a key component of the Wednesday midfield - composed in possession and all-action, with an increasing goal threat.
But the 26-year-old’s turnaround is no surprise to the man himself.
“I actually prefer playing in midfield and enjoying it helps,” Lee told the Star after signing his new deal.
“I played there when I was younger so it’s something I’m used to.
“I really enjoy getting forward. I’m a box-to-box player with good stamina so I’m a bit of an all-rounder.”
Lee netted six goals last season, something which played a key part of him securing a regular starting berth and earning a new contract.
Head coach Stuart Gray has already set him the target of reaching double figures next term and the Stalybridge-born midfielder is confident he can achieve that goal.
He said: “I got six last season and missed quite a bit of time with injury.
“Double figures will be a target for me and if I stay fit I think it’s something I can do.
“I’m hoping to build on everything next season, the performances and the goals.
“It’s been a good season for me, but I’m always looking to improve.
“I’d worked on trying to get a few more. I think it was down to trying to get in the box more.
“Most of the time you need something to fall for you but you have to be in the right place to stick it away and you have to make the right runs to be in the right place.
“I knew once I was in the box, I could find the target.
“And once you get those first couple of goals, that’s when the confidence comes for you to go looking for a few more.”
In a season in which goals were at a premium for Wednesday, Lee’s six strikes certainly helped, particularly several vital efforts.
He opened the scoring against eventual champions Bournemouth, helping the Owls to a notable away draw.
But his biggest contribution - and the single moment which placed him in Wednesday folklore - was the injury-time winner at Rotherham United.
Unsurprisingly, that goal was Lee’s best moment of last season. “Of course that was a massive highlight,” he said. “To score the winner in that manner and celebrate as we did in front of the fans was incredible.”